Abandoned Wonder Valley Fire Station 45 Will Remain Shuttered Permanently

The San Bernardino County Fire Department has virtually abandoned any intent of restaffing the Wonder Valley fire station.
Last September, after an analysis was done on water drawn from the well Station 45 uses, the water was determined to be contaminated with arsenic, hexavalent chromium and fluoride at levels approaching or exceeding 1,000 times the threshold deemed safe for human use and consumption. On September 22, the county shut the fire station down, relocating the crew, which at that time included Battalion Chief Mike Snow, to the Twentynine Palms fire station, based on the threat to the health of the firefighters.
The county fire division, after looking at how to redress the well water contamination issue at Station 45, including putting a water filtering system into place at the fire station, has determined that there is no feasible method of reducing the contamination level sufficiently to render the water safe. Accordingly, the prospect of the fire station being reopened is nil. County officials are reluctant to make such an announcement, given the displeasure with which it will be received in Wonder Valley.
Last fall, when the fire department retreated from the Wonder Valley Fire Station, the local populace, somewhat understandably, grew enraged. For more than half of a century Wonder Valley fended for itself with regard to the provision of basic fire protection service, paying for or in some cases supplying or fabricating equipment and vehicles, and utilizing a paid call firefighting staff working out of its traditional Wonder Valley Fire Station. But more than a decade previously, the community voted to become a special county fire district tax zone, and its volunteer fire department was subsumed by the county fire department, which accordingly agreed to maintain a two-full time firefighter presence in Station 45, located at 80526 Amboy Road, augmented with both on-call firefighters and volunteers.
The use of the water contamination rationale for withdrawing the firefighters was seen by locals as a ruse to close out the fire station, which the county fire department for several years has been loath to continue to operate. It was further seen as a slight and insult to the Wonder Valley citizenry, since the county made no provisions to protect residents at large, who are using the same water supply.
Some of the more vocal local residents asserted the water test results had been phonied up as a ploy to close out the fire station. Indeed, when the Sentinel in its October 27, 2017 edition ran a lead story about the water contamination levels in Wonder Valley, it provoked a reaction reminiscent of that depicted in the Henrik Ibsen play, Enemy of the People, with residents blasting the paper and the article’s author for engaging in shoddy journalism and serving as a shill for the county fire department.
While some Wonder Valley residents have accepted at face value fire department representations that it is looking at finding a solution to the water contamination problem and that upon that issue being redressed the fire crew will return to Station 45, the Sentinel has learned that the county fire administration is set upon keeping the Wonder Valley operation shuttered permanently.
-Mark Gutglueck

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